October 26, 2009

October 26, 2009

CHAMPION—October 26, 2009


        Champion enjoyed a perfect autumn day for Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride on Saturday.  It was a perfect day all around the County for horse activities.  The Saddle Club in Ava had a ride over a specially developed course.  There was a big auction in Ava that included all kinds of farm and horse equipment and horses.  Russell Wood decided to move his trail ride up a week on the calendar.  Anyone with a horse and the desire to enjoy an autumn day had lots of choices.  The six riders that made the Champion ride set out North up over a steep little hill.  They crossed Clever Creek and turned east.  One was heard to ask another if he remembered the year the creek was up so high they made a young man riding a little mule to cross it first before the rest of them would go through it.  The reasoning behind that was not clear, but they had no such trouble this time as the creek was up only a little.  As they wound through the country on the way to Drury they happened to find Russell Upshaw visiting the old family home-place.  On down the trail they found Robert Upshaw at his family home place so the ride was punctuated with some good socializing.  Wilma Hutchison was waiting for them at Drury and orchestrated another great photograph of the group.  She has photos of every one of these rides with the names of all the riders every year.  One of the photos taken on Saturday will be chosen to be the new Number Five in the series of Ten Champion Picture Post Cards.  They are available at Henson’s Store in Downtown Champion.  It is on the North Side of the Square.
        Wilma was recovering from injuries to her knees sustained in a recent fall.  Her enthusiasm was not flagging, however, and she has much entertaining information to share that she has gleaned from Bud and others through the years.  She writes things down on old envelopes and in notebooks when she catches Bud reminiscing.  One crumpled envelope had notes about how John Proctor owned the chestnut stallion known as “Old Fox.”  Proctor lived between Denlow and Champion close to Fox Creek and farmed 240 acres there.  He was known as a hardworking man, well respected in the area.  After he and his wife passed away, their son, Feldie, and his family moved to the farm and kept Old Fox as a stud horse.  A number of family members in the Champion and Denlow area bred their horses to Old Fox.  They sold him to Everett Irby in 1944.  Irby lived at Wheelis Creek.  Bud and a lot of other people were there at Champion to see Old Fox loaded into a truck with stock racks.  Some man standing in the crowd said, “He’s a good one!”  There are pictures of Old Fox in the public areas of the Fox Trotters Association in Ava where he is well regarded as one of the most influential sires of this easy riding versatile breed of horses.  Fox trotters were developed in the Ozarks and are known for their stamina, soundness and gentle disposition.  The trail ride wound up back at Champion on schedule with all riders having had a pleasant outing.  Accompanying Bud were Hershel Letsinger, Bob Herd, Jackie Coonts, Dale Lawson and Nancy Burns.

        Wilma said that Esther Wrinkles usually comes to Drury to visit with the trail riders and have lunch, but she was not there this time.  Her son, Larry, and daughter-in-law, Theresa, had taken Esther up to Licking, Missouri to the home of Patricia Smith.  Patricia hosted a party for the 87th birthday of Ms. Erla Wrinkles, Esther’s sister-in-law.  Three of Erla’s six children celebrated with their Mother—Patricia Smith, Helen Ice, and Billy Wrinkles.  It was a nice gathering Esther said.  Esther also spoke of the passing of Thelma Mallernee.  She was a lifelong resident of the area with ties throughout the community.  She was married to Roy Mallernee for 67 years.  Her services were held Friday and she was buried at Denlow.

        Young Kyle Barker is about to become a big brother!  A great gathering of interested parties had a party for his Mom, Deborah, on Saturday.  This kind of party is called a “shower” and everybody had a good time…sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, girlfriends, and in-laws.  There were games, presents and good food.  It couldn’t have been better.  It seems that a number of Champions have October birthdays!  How Jolly!  One got a card that said, “Laugh so hard that you go into silent laugh mode and you come dangerously close to falling out of your chair, but you don’t.”  Another suggested that a way to look younger than your age is to lie outrageously about how old you are…”I’m 102 this year.”  Protracted celebrations are acceptable in Champion and Champions extend their best wishes to each other during these special days, especially to the young and lovely Mrs. Krider!

        It happens in Champion and elsewhere that the lives of remarkable people are celebrated posthumously.  Sometime after the solemn somber service when survivors have made mild with sweet tears the soil to receive again what remains when the soul has flown, sometime later when the hard edge of separation has been smoothed and softened by time, the laughter returns.  The laughter returned with the music and with the deep connections of old friends and the implausible ones made of only mutual acquaintance, with stories of remembrance in a great feast of friendship celebrating the fullness of a ripe remarkable life, one savored with passion and delight–the life of Claude DeBogan.  He was there.

        The U.S. military is increasingly interested in understanding and more efficiently treating blast-induced brain injuries, as between 10-20% of the soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan return with concussions from explosive blasts.  Some say the percentage is much higher.  No one returning from combat returns unchanged.  Every one of them needs to be met with the Love and Gratitude they have due them.

        A couple of Champion women are experimenting with ultrasonic rodent repellers.  It will be a welcome trick for them if the mice are uncomfortable in their kitchens!  These Champions will be busy this week getting some mums planted out in the yard for next spring.  Linda over at the Plant Place in Norwood has some nice ones as well as a number of perennials that will be reminders that autumn and winter will again give way to spring and glorious summer.  Just now little goblins and pirates and Tinkerbells are getting ready to extort candy from their neighbors on the threat of a trick.  Maybe Halloween will be a rainy, gloomy night with whistling wind and unexpected spooks around every corner.  “Look, he’s crawling up my wall, black and hairy, very small.  Now he’s up above my head, hanging by a little thread. Boris the Spider!  Creepy crawly, creepy creepy crawly crawly!” Written by John Entwistle of The Who, it is a favorite for this season.  Sing a spooky song out on the porch at Henson’s Store in downtown Champion.  Report any unexplained muddy barefooted footprints across your own porch to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion News.  It could be Lem and Ned!  Get a look at that new Number Five in the series of Champion Picture Post Cards at www.championnews.us.  It is a doosie and right across the front of it—“Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!”


October 19, 2009

October 19, 2009

CHAMPION—October 19, 2009


        In Champion the pumpkins finally got their frost on Sunday morning.  The mulberry trees let go of their big green leaves as soon as the sun hit them and they floated down into a deep carpet.  The woods have taken on the character of an old master’s landscape and Champions are again awed by the beauty of their own place in the sunshine.  Some are quite awed at the possibility of the broadband internet coming their way.  It cannot be too soon.

        A pleasant phone visit with Champion Esther Wrinkles was full of good news about the Thursday Night Music over at Plumber’s Junction.  The Backyard Bluegrass had a packed house and about raised the roof!  Johnny Unger’s sister took some photos, which Esther hopes she will email to the Champion mailbox.  D.J. put down his banjo and picked up his fiddle to play the Orange Blossom Special for Esther…she’s talking about making him another cake!

        Champion’s most avid eagle watcher shared a copy of the eagle picture that she received last week from her cousin in Texas.  It is a photo of a painting done on a slice of agate by prominent artist Marie Nash of Madisonville, Texas.  The eagle is a stately fellow.  His portrait came with a pleasant note from the Champion neighbor under the cover of a postage stamp bearing the likeness of Gary Cooper.  Now there was a handsome fellow.  The Solidarity Movement in Poland adopted his image as Will Kane in the movie, High Noon, in the struggle to gain free elections and to oust the Soviet backed communist government.  Leck Walenza was the hero there.  He was an electrician in the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk and eventually became the President of Poland.  Back in the U.S., Sergeant York would not authorize the movie of his life unless Gary Cooper played the part.  With roles like Lou Gehrig and John Doe, Cooper fit the mold for a Champion kind of guy, though his life was not without controversy.

        Controversial things show up in a book by Barbara Ehrenreich called Bright-Sided:  How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.  She has written sixteen previous books, including the bestsellers Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch.  She said that she interviewed a lot of motivational speakers whose message to their corporate clients in sales meetings is:  you can have whatever you want, so long as you focus your thoughts on it and as long as you really, really, really want it.  The writer says, “..that’s nuts.  That’s not how we make change in the world.  We make change by planning, by thinking and by coming together.”  Her alternative to positive thinking is not negative thinking or despair, “it’s checking out what’s really there and finding out how to change it.”  Bright Siders around these parts feel that they do have their eyes open and there are reasons to be optimistic.  Not too much wants changing in Champion, though Champions support the writer’s efforts in corporate America and other distant places.

        Timber!  Three Champion women took falls this week.  One stepped off her porch in her slick little shoes onto a slick rock in the rain and made a splat that frightened the poor UPS man coming up the drive.  She has a scab on her knee now and some stretched muscles that want the heating pad.  Another Champion up in Marshfield, on her way to baby-sit, took a misstep and bloodied her nose on her granddaughter’s front steps.  She is feeling better, but it was not the fun kind of day she had planned.  Champion’s Norwood friend tripped and took a dive into a wall that blacked both her eyes.  When her Champion friend saw her on Wednesday, the colors had changed to that interesting combination of purple, yellow and green.  By the time for the regular bridge game on Saturday she was back to her normal lovely self.  Some say these kinds of things come in threes, so enough is enough.

        On Saturday the regular Fortnight Bridge group met with Charlene Dupre sitting in for the Vera Cruze player.  The Champion player left home with $2.30 and returned the winner with $3.10.  Bridge is good brain exercise particularly with a mix of good friends and pineapple upside down cake.  Players from Champion-East and Champion joined sisters at the Plant Place and Gift Corner up in Norwood for a rousing game last Wednesday.  There were quite a number of unfulfilled contracts and Champion-East, who rarely plays, was victorious.  They enjoyed pizza and lots of talk about gardening and the expected frost.  There are still a few good planting days left in the Hunter’s Moon.  The 25th – 27th, 30th , 31st are all good days for planting things like leafy greens.  Some say that this is the best time to plant spinach–that it will winter over and be good for early spring.  Before the ground freezes is a good time to set out all kinds of perennials and to plant daffodils.  Linda’s got a good deal on some evergreens these days and the mums are just lovely.  An old Clever Creek Champion says “Thanks!” to Harley for the hay.  Now he has his potato patch ready for next year.  Champion!

        First Lt. Tyler E. Parten, a native of Arkansas, died Thursday in Konar province in a firefight where insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles.  He is one of the 267 Fort Carson soldiers to die in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Richard Love is the postmaster in the little town of Fountain near the fort.  He says that he sees the toll on the faces of the wives that the soldiers leave behind.  The place stays braced for tragedy and expressions of Love and Gratitude are freely spoken.

        Rain caused the tour of the grand avenue to be postponed until Barbara is back in the neighborhood.  Champions always hope that is soon.  She has been off on a basket-weaving holiday, but Champions know that she is thinking about just how many signs and just where to place them on the now famous Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive.  The air is crisp and bright with good memories and melodies fill Champion hearts.  There is sweetness in a sad song that makes a person feel better somehow.  “Poor little Sadie is down from the mountain, the orphanage took her away.  Her Mama ran off with a revival preacher.  Her Daddy forgot how to pray.  They scrubbed on her knees and her elbows.  They cut off her long tangled hair.  They turned loose of her old dappled pony and loaded her into the car.”  Well, it goes on and on.  She grew up and turned out ok, but it was not easy.  Sadie sounds like a Champion kind of gal, one that might just step up on the porch at Henson’s Store to let loose with a song.  The Champion Picture Post Card business is in full swing whipping up nostalgia and positive thinking.  Get a look at the scenic gems at www.championnews.us or in person at the Emporium in Downtown Champion.  Send news of Lem and Ned to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion News.

Do not worry about undermining America, Champion!  Look on the Bright Side!


October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009

CHAMPION—October 12, 2009


        Champions are edified by encouragement.  They never weary in well doing and are pleased to be able to be of service to others.  Looking on the Bright Side is more than a motto in Champion.  It is a way of life.

        Keith Yeager led a meeting at the Church of Christ in Champion from Friday through the Sunday afternoon service.  He and his wife, Sue, and their granddaughter made the trip to Champion from their home in Springtown, Texas, which is just a little Northwest of Fort Worth.  They had not been to Champion for thirteen years and while things are very much the same at the little church, there are some notable changes.  Missing from the congregation are Troy Powell and Lonnie Krider.  Though their absence is continually felt, the positive influence they exerted on the community by good example is one of the reasons Champion is still such a pleasant place.  Yeager taught on a variety of subjects with a focus on the responsibility of Christians to uplift and encourage each other as well as others.  The churches of Springfield, Marshfield, Peoria, IL and Murfreesboro, TN were well represented at the meeting and the little building was filled to capacity.  Acapella singing lifted the rafters and the spirits of everyone.  The Yeagers were heard to remark about how much they enjoyed being out in the country amid such sweet fellowship.  It reminded some of that old song about an “all day singing and dinner on the grounds.”  And what a dinner!  Champion!

        Saturday found Bob Berry leading a party of tourist through the tranquil environs of Champion.  Mary Goolsby has finally seen what all the fuss is about.  Her camera was working overtime as she tried to capture the place (not on film—on digits—no that is fingers).  Well, Champion just cannot be captured.  A person has to stroll around to soak it in and Champions hope to see Bob and Mary strolling through the place often.  They are long-time, big-time supporters of the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department and as such are Champions.

        Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride will be starting and finishing in Champion on Saturday the 24th of October.  He has been doing this for about twelve years now.  Thirty five to fifty people on horses, mules, wagons and buggies take out of Champion at ten in the morning.  They get over to Drury for lunch around noon and then back to Champion at 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon.  Those that don’t know their way to Champion generally meet up across from the Fox Trotters in Ava about nine in the morning and caravan over to Champion.  People come from Springfield and all over to participate and all are welcome.  The trail goes close by the historic spot where Shelt Alsup was killed by the sheriff.  This story his told in the books Early Settlers of Douglas County and in The Search for Booger County.  Bud’s ancestors bought a big farm North of Champion on Clever Creek back in 1894.  He has a prominent Champion double cousin living just up WW from the city limits sign.  Everyone is welcome to come out to see the spectacle of the horses and riders, wagons and buggies.  Everyone has a good time.  A photograph will be chosen of this year’s group to be the new Champion Picture Post Card, replacing the 2009 picture.  It will be available at Henson’s Store on Tuesday the 27th of October.

        There are more than forty families in Springfield who will see one of their family members deployed to Afghanistan in late October.  They are among the 300 Missouri National Guard Soldiers who have been training in Camp Clark, Nevada with the 203rd Engineer Battalion.  Their job in Afghanistan will be clearing the roadways of improvised explosive devices.  The job of their families back home will be to carry on with daily life, doing all the things that have to be done, with the added load of concern for the well-being of their loved ones far away.  The soldiers are also worried about their families back home, which must make their work harder for them there.  The Love and Gratitude of the Nation, the communities, the neighbors, friends and strangers must be expressed in some tangible way to provide comfort and encouragement to those serving and those left behind.  A dinner invitation, a phone call, a hug or handshake will go a long way.

        One of Foster and Kalyssa’s favorite uncles is about to have a birthday.  They are all such good singers, perhaps they will share a song with him on his special day.  Kalyssa does a bang up job with “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and Foster’s Granddad taught him the one about “Sadie’s Got Her New Dress On.”  When complimented on his own beautiful voice, the uncle just said that his wife makes him sound good.  They sure sound good together and Champions always enjoy a chance to hear the two of them sing.

        The specter of frost is still looming and some Champions are still scrambling to get everything done.  One tells a story about the mysterious Lem and Ned.  “They came walking up the hill one fall, one with a toe sack and the other one a syrup bucket.  ‘Hidy, Missus.  Lem and me was jest wonderin iffin you wouldn’t mind to have some kindlin’.  We got this sack of pine knots here and we was jest wonderin iffin you wouldn’t care for us to split you up some stove wood and pull all them pig weeds outa your turnip patch.  Now, don’t worry none about us.  We got our dinner bucket and we’d be much obliged to get our pay in turnips iffin you got a few to spare.’”  It turns out that Champions with turnips generally always have some to spare and so the deal was struck.  Now some Champions are keeping an eye on the lane to see if a couple of lanky, rusty ankled old barefoot hillbilly boys are passing by.  There is plenty to do and a few turnips worth of help couldn’t hurt.

        Harley’s voice sure adds some punch to the acapella consonance of Champion.  Barbara likes for him to lead, “Look on The Brighter Side.”  “…Shadows will pass away.  Trust in the Lord to guide you.  He’ll keep you every day and will drive away your sorrows…”  This is not the Monty Python song written by Eric Idle.  That one says, “…When your chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle, and this will help things turn out for the best.  And always look on the bright side of life…”  Either of those is a good tune to accompany an excursion up and down the now famous Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive.  Barbara, whose idea it was, is making her survey to determine the number and placement of the signs.  Champions who have yet to traverse its entire length are taking advantage of Barbara’s sojourn in the country to accompany her on her perlustration of the scenic avenue.

        Any Bright Side songs are welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717 or at Champion News.  Those are also good places to send any more information about Lem and Ned.  Are they really doppelgangers of Junior and the General?  Look for the complete set of 10 picture post cards, now available individually or in gift packs at Henson’s Store on the North Side of the Square in Historic Downtown Champion.  Get a good look at the place on-line at www.championnews.us.  Go over in person for a real treat–to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 5, 2009

October 5, 2009

CHAMPION—October 5, 2009


        Champion is situated at the bottom of a long hill and a short one at the end of the pavement on a nice flat beside a creek.  It is a beautiful and quaint place with a similitude that smacks of heaven.  Moreover, Champion has wonderful neighbors, so if Champions must leave home, they do not have far to go to find fellowship and enjoyment.

        Neighbors, Betty and Dale Thomas, hosted their eighth annual Pioneer Descendants Gathering over at Yates on the weekend.  Dale is a descendent of the original settlers Tom Brown and John Burden.  During the course of the day on Saturday three thousand people enjoyed exhibits and demonstrations depicting life from the 1860’s to the 1960’s.  Betty’s hand quilted Wagon Wheel quilt was won by Mary Record of Mountain Grove.  Esther Wrinkles was impressed by the quality of the molasses this year.  Ray and Norma Stillings of over West of Ava make it every year.  Esther said that they really did a good job of skimming and though they were dark, they were very tasty.  (It is curious that molasses is often spoken of in the plural—‘those molasses.’)  Lula Lakey Dyer enjoyed them too.  She is one of those local Lakeys and looks forward to getting back in the neighborhood whenever she can.  Old Grandfather Weltanschauung was seen ambling about with his Rich brother and Lovely Linda.  They were enjoying the exhibits and demonstrations and visiting with old friends about harvesting green beans from the same plants from June to October!  It was a good gardening season for many this year.  The gathering was a good place to share those successes and to see again those seldom seen friends.

        Champion’s Skyline neighbor and Ladies’ Auxiliary President, Betty Dye, celebrated a birthday on the seventh of October.  She has done a great job with the Auxiliary, keeping things organized and efficient and fun.  She is a self-described magnet for mice and has some very entertaining stories about encounters with those critters.  Over the course years they have strolled over the foot of her bed, run up her pants legs, jumped up on her knee, walked on the bottom side of her book shelves, sat on her shoulder to watch Wheel of Fortune, and shared space with her toes on a sticky trap.  With all this interaction, one might think she likes them.  She does not.  Neither does Kalyssa’s Grammie.  Her fear of mice is legendary as is her sister Kaye’s fear of snakes.  Not much teasing is done regarding these phobias.  It is not safe.  They celebrated a special birthday together on Sunday.  Now they are as old as Harley!  They are older now than some of their Champion friends, who will, for a while, treat them with the deference due to elders.  There is a good rumor that Harley and Barbara will be home for a visit soon.  There will be a meeting at the little church, hopefully with much singing so that Harley’s fine voice can fill the space and drift out to enchant the Champion wildlife.

        There is some exciting talk about the possibility of a walking trail that might be in the planning stages.  It could be built around and through the Skyline Fire Department Picnic Grounds and the Skyline School.  A number of neighbors would like to participate in the work, as the possibility of having such a trail available is very enticing.  Some safe surface over which to walk off those pounds or get that heart to pumping could be a good thing for the community.

        A nice note came from a long time Champion concerning an item in the Mansfield Mirror a couple of weeks ago.  The article concerned the ancient dugout canoe found buried in the banks of Bryant Creek.  She had sent it to Carol Fitzmaurice, who use to live here and now is in Atlanta.  By return mail Ms. Fitzmaurice sent a clipping that she had saved from the Douglas County Herald’s 1983 article about the canoe.  So the old boat is still floating if just in the imaginations of Champions past and present and mail crossings of mysterious things keep the world an interesting place.

        News arrived that Art Nunn passed away on Sunday.  He was in the Veteran’s Hospital in Poplar Bluff and had been ill for a long time.  He leaves close family here.  All those survivors of U.S. Military Veterans know that the community of Veterans share a special Love and Gratitude for each other, no matter which war they fought or when or where they served.  It is something they have coming to them from the whole Nation.

        If gardeners have been organized enough to get their seed ordered, the sixth and seventh will be good days to get that fancy garlic in the ground for next year.  Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood indicates that the tenth through the twelfth will still be good for root crops.  They are having a nice end of the season sale over there.  Charlene has been making some very cute scarecrows.  She loaned a book to a Champion bridge player.  The Fun Way To Serious Bridge was written by Harry Lampert.  He has a comical way to reinforce the basic rules and strategies.  At this week’s Fortnight Bridge a player from Champion-South sat in for the Norwood Player who had a special game going on over in the Seven Springs community.  On the occasions when Champion and Champion—South partnered they managed to trump each other’s trick and to regale the group with grandchildren stories.  The Vera Cruz host and the Brushy Knob player were polite in their listening, though it must surely get old when Grandmothers vie for cutest decendant.  The game went on for six rubbers with four slams made that were not bid.  The Vera Cruz player won the $1.00 for high score and the Champion-South sit-in walked off with twenty nickels.  The whole thing was punctuated nicely with an apple crisp and ice cream.  The Seven Springs game results have not yet been reported, but that is reported to be a very fun loving bunch over there, so no doubt it was a pleasant evening.

        A delightful pair of chanteuses happened through Champion during the week.  Singer/ songwriters, Ginger Doss and Becka Kelso, on tour, made a stop with the family of their musical friend, Sam Moses.  They harvested the wild grapes, ate vegetarian Street Walker’s Pasta, and made beautiful music.  Their voices blend together in that way that causes the listener to hold his breath.  Sam’s folks were pleased to have some live music in the house again and there were many sweet stories told about Sam.  He is still off in Scotland and his last e-mail said, “I hope you are having as much fun as I am.”  Ginger left her new CD, This Cocoon.  The moon was getting full during their stay and her title track says, “..your full moon eyes in a midnight sky made a light of it.”  One of Becka’s songs on her new CD, Mud Blossom, says, “..But I smile when I think of the things that you say/ I just want to call you so I can say, ‘Hey, I love you when you’re gone.’”  With luck, Champion will be a regular stop on their future tours.  They Started out in Texas and will go to Florida, via St. Louis, Indianapolis, Nashville, Atlanta, etc., ending the tour in late December.

        Look for pictures of the Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering under “Pioneers” at www.championnews.us.  Drop a note to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or an email to Champion News, with any interesting information, especially if you know anything about the mysterious Lem and Ned.  Spill those beans on the porch at Henson’s Store in the bucolic similitude of pastoral paradise.  The picture postcard business is thriving there, as the place is so picturesque.  Up and down Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive the view is fine.  It’s Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!